Adding that NDA government should de-escalate the JNU row by handing it over to the university and its students to be resolved, Dutt condemned the incident of lawyers allegedly beating up journalists and said that action should be taken in this issue.
Even as the JNU row continued to make headlines, noted television journalist Barkha Dutt who was in Ahmedabad on Saturday said that the incident had been mishandled and said the Modi government has locked itself into an unfortunate battle with students on three campuses in the country and that his silences on several political issues recently will hurt the PM.
Speaking at an inaugural function of a two-day symposium hosted by Business Referral and Networking Organisation (BNI)- where her recent book ‘The Unquiet Land’ was launched- Dutt said “JNU (controversy) is a very good example of how ‘needlessly’ polarised we are getting as a country…It is possible to care deeply about the 10 soldiers who died in Siachen recently, but still believe that the JNU crisis has been mishandled. You don’t have to be Arundhati Roy, I am no Arundhati Roy who said that ‘I am a member of the mobile republic, I don’t believe in the Indian state’. I (Dutt) believe strongly in the Indian state…”
Adding that the NDA government should de-escalate the JNU row by handing it over to the university and its students to be resolved, Dutt condemned the incident of lawyers allegedly beating up journalists and said that action should be taken in this issue. “There has to be a semblance of stability, of social order in our public conversations; you can’t have 8000 students on the streets of the national Capital and lawyers beating up journalists in the capital and then say why ‘Make in India’ did not make the headlines. Government should consider that these are not the issues it needs in the news,” she said while answering an audience query on media coverage on recent issues.
On the nationalism debate raging in the country, she said, “Nationalism and patriotism are very private things, we are all free to define it for ourselves. Yes, so slogans at the JNU campus were upsetting but you know what – the boy they have arrested didn’t even make them. The video that is being released was doctored. So can you imagine we have a full blown national crises based on a doctored video where the biggest thing you can see for the boy who they picked up is that he didn’t stop the others from raising slogans… I think the most disturbing thing in India today is the need to label people and put them in boxes, put ribbons on them and say this Congress, AAP, BJP, left, right .. Most of us are common sensical people and there is much more consensus among us than what the media allows us to experience and certainly the social media allows us to experience where- everyday there is competition of hashtags.”
While saying that social media has disrupted the mainstream media, Dutt however also raised questions on the veracity of the information available on the platform. “Social media posed some existential questions for mainstream media that have not been fully answered, but the challenge is good. Television news does need reinvention…. However social media released a photograph of Kanhaiya Kumar showing there were guns and ISI flags behind him, do you know it was a fake picture?”
Giving an assessment of the Indian PM- Narendra Modi as a very complex political persona and a pragmatist , the journalist averred that he needs to be more vocal on issues.”Let Mr Modi directly express himself on Twitter on JNU, on Rohith, let him express himself… One thing that mystifies me is why is this masterful orator and communicator is not speaking on issues that could be nipped in the bud. I don’t know why whether it was Dadri Lynching, Rohit’s suicide in Hyderabad, now this needless controversy in JNU, the PM is certainly capable of thinking out of the box, we’ve seen that on more than one occasion, why then do we not see that until the crisis has escalated…Why is Mr Modi who is in total control of the party not cracking down on his ministers who are hijacking the headline. Why is he allowing his headlines to be hijacked.”
The session which was well attended by business heads and CEOs of several business entities in Gujarat and professionals, also saw the launch of the book ‘Being Hindu: Old Faith, New World and You’ by noted journalist Hindol Sengupta, currently Editor-at- Large at Fortune India, Sengupta stressed on the need of openness being the touchstone of Hinduism.
Sengupta said, “Our civilisational values if there is one, is based on the ability to even question the existence of God. Today we are looking at a country where we cannot question this or that, but our civilisation has taught us that we can question even the existence of God…The greatest strength of Hinduism is that it is an open source faith that can only survive if it is constantly absorbing and transforming. In the 21st century the fundamental idea of Hinduism must come from the idea that openness does not make us weak, it makes us stronger. If there are things in our faith which we must contemplate , then we must be prepared to re-contemplate those things.The Hindu argument only survives only if the argument is an open-source one….My liberalism comes from Hinduism. I am liberal because I follow the principles of Vedanta, I am not a liberal because I read Karl Marx, I am a liberal because I am a Hindu and believe in the Sanatan Dharma.” (indianexpress)